The latest news on Covid often drums up intense emotions like grief, fear, and anger. We might feel relief, running to the kitchen and delving into a jar of peanut butter. We might numb that grief, fear, and anger by chewing on crackers or eating lots of cookies. The relief that we get, though, lasts only minutes. After the escape, the pain lingers in our bodies, minds, and hearts. We feel heavy from the physical assault of sugar, fat, and salt, embarrassed, and regretful over the loss of control. The cycle can stop once we feel feelings, slow down, and really taste food.
It’s one thing to take the time to savor the melted cheese in a plate of jalapeno-flavored nachos. It’s quite another to crunch through chips in a sudden bout of stress-eating. In those moments, we lose the chance to practice the management of emotions. Also, we miss the opportunity to learn more about ourselves. Feelings inform our identities. Burying emotions distances us from ourselves and leads us further away from self-actualization and self-fulfillment. Instead of avoiding our feelings, we need to work through them.
Inflicting a physical trauma when faced with a situational trauma makes a bad situation worse. What could be a temporary feeling is now a part of our everyday lives. Suppressed emotions stay around and surface in unpredictable ways. Bottled-up anger could leave us sobbing when hearing a song. Our houses might be filled with items that we don’t need or even like as a result of not expressing pain. We might find gaining weight or having lots of trouble holding down a job. Without self- control, we find ourselves doing or saying weird things – like in these crazy videos
Like heroes slaying monsters, we can let the emotion out, and while staying present, allow ourselves to feel what we feel. What are we worried about? What’s making us so sad or angry? We can give our fear, resentment, or grief space for expression. Then, we can reflect on the cause and learn about ourselves. Through validation of our past and present experiences, we can form better understandings of ourselves. Suppressing emotions stops us from growing. When we feel feelings, slow down, we can reflect and find peace through forgiveness and acceptance.
Slow Down the Response
We can free ourselves – to some extent – from the burden of trauma when we feel feelings and reflect on the triggers. Empowered by the ability to manage emotions and control our actions, we might still decide to delve into that jar of peanut butter. But as captains of our own ship, we’ll gravitate toward Aristotle’s mathematical mean and limit the scope and duration of the event. Without a flood of emotions pushing and pulling us in chaotic directions, we’ll be more focused. If we feel feelings and slow down, we can better appreciate the taste and smell of great food.
Taste and Smell Food
With enough self-control, we can train ourselves to reach for healthy versions of our unhealthy favorites. The relief that we derive from chopping on a bag of chips might also be had by crunching on ranch-covered carrots or salt-covered seaweed. Fruit-decorated and stevia-sweetened Greek yogurt might provide us with as much comfort as that bowl of ice cream. Over time, we can become accustomed to the replacements and derive the same satisfaction without the heaviness of unhealthy food.
Instead of heading for the snack drawer, we can move toward the teapot or to the microwave to warm up a heating pad. Overwhelmed, we might turn toward the closet for the foot massager or head to the bathroom for a hot bath. Rather than crunching on pretzels or crackers, we might find more stress relief by stretching, doing push-ups, or punching a heavy bag.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. Feelings felt, and food and drink consumed with joy and appreciation. With enough determination, we can talk ourselves off the ledge of stress-eating, learn from our emotions, and ultimately get more out of life. I’m practicing this method of slowing down while on this new diet that I started. Also, I’m training myself to eat healthy follow-up meals after a high-calorie night out. Learn more by following me here. Thank you for reading.